Hospital sued for negligence after toddler left disabled

Date: Dec 05, 2017

A Perth hospital is facing a medical negligence claim after a young girl was left severely disabled following treatment for burns.

The 16-month-old toddler was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital with scald injuries on December 9, 2005. Within two days, she had suffered two heart attacks and lung failure, leading to irreversible brain damage.

The girl’s family is eager to know what happened in those 48 hours, with legal counsel alleging she developed sepsis that was left untreated.

People who have suffered burns are more prone to the condition, which can cause multiple organ failure, according to the Australian Sepsis Network. The girl in this case had scald burns across up to 18 per cent of her body.

Did doctors ignore risks?

The plaintiff’s counsel claimed in WA District Court that medical practitioners ignored or downplayed the risk of sepsis, instead focusing on fluid overload for the toddler’s subsequent health problems.

If doctors had considered sepsis, they could have administered antibiotics to treat the condition.

According to PerthNow, the girl was conscious and eating on the morning of December 11. But she was rushed to into the intensive care ward later that day after her condition rapidly deteriorated.

“Alarm bells should have been ringing. By the time she was in the intensive care unit, she was in a life and death struggle,” the court heard.

Doctors told the plaintiff’s mother that her daughter was unlikely to survive and asked her to sign documents that would allow the toddler to die.

The girl, who is now 13, pulled through, but must now use a walking frame to move around and has significant disabilities that impede her education.

Doctor defends hospital care

A consultant paediatrician asked to provide expert medical evidence claimed the hospital’s care was “exemplary”.

“It is clearly my belief that the care provided by Princess Margaret Hospital was of a very high standard and in no way deficient,” The West Australian quoted Dr Jeffrey Prebble as stating.

The hospital’s defence team have also argued there is no evidence to suggest the girl developed sepsis, adding that antibiotics may not have helped even if she had the condition.

The trial continues.

Would you like to discuss a medical negligence claim? Please contact a member of the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

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